Two teams that met in the world cup in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 17th March 2007, are facing each other again, for a 3 match ODI series. After the fanciful prospect of Bangladesh win has turned into reality and resulted in chaotic development in the commercial capital of cricket, the world cricket is enjoying a completely different build-up for the series. Amid uncertainty of supremacy in shorter version of the game, Bangladesh is expecting to win an ODI series against India for the first time in their cricket history.
While the win over India in world cup paved the way for more cricketing success for Bangladesh, the loss has hit India with more muddles they ever faced in their rich cricketing history. World Cup exit at the hand of Bangladesh, a team they denied to host for years for commercial reasons, has brought rings of changes in Indian cricket, and have opened the Pandora box, which they are struggling to restore in its previous state.
Coach axed, senior players rebuked, endorsements scrapped, payment denied, key players getting injured, and denial to sign contracts, these are the headlines hitting the Indian newspapers ahead of a very crucial Bangladesh tour. After the premature world cup exit, things are going from bad to worse in Indian cricket. Amid these muddles, Indian players are facing intense heat from the fans, endorsements and cricket board to perform, and restore the pride of Indian cricket.
On the contrary, after a very successful world cup mission, Bangladesh is enjoying their best moments of cricketing history. Players getting reception, world cup reward money, positive media attention, fans never ending affection and the warmth of home condition before facing India again. Bangladesh outfit is representing themselves as a happy family, who are ready to say good bye to Dav Whatmore, their father figure coach, after a successful stint of four years.
Bangladesh fans, who always express gratitude to every little success of the Tigers, watched the glorious moments of Bangladesh cricket on the television. Now, a refreshing looking young Bangladesh is aiming to topple India, yet another time, in front of their fans at home. While Bangladesh discovered confidence from the world cup, Indian confidence and pride is shattered badly and recent developments are making them increasingly confused over their future strategies. Bangladesh is keen to exploit every single opportunity to continue the domination, which they ruthlessly executed at Queens Park Oval in Trinidad.
Bangladesh kept their faith on the world cup squad, and made no changes for the India series except Rajin Saleh, who has not featured in any of the world cup matches. The spirit is high in the team, and skipper Habibul Bashar is upbeat to win the ODI series.
"There is always pressure in a home series and now the expectation is high after our victory against India. India will definitely be desperate to erase the bitter memory but I am confident of beating them again. I think it is difficult but not impossible to win the one-day series against India," said Bashar after returning from the Caribbean. The whole team echoed his voice and they are keen to retain the hard earned respect, knowing a series win over India can only augment their achievement.
Indian selectors tried hard to deliver a new look Indian team. In a bid to look for the future, the board wanted young players after the shambolic defeat at the hand of Bangladeshi youth brigade averaging 18 years. Despite the call, the scenario remained the same as selectors could only manage to offer two places for the young talents in the 14 member squad. Manoj Tiwary and Piyush Chawla earned their places in the squad, and there is a slim hope that one of them will get a nod in the playing XI. Ironically, none of the future talents managed to find their names in the test squad.
Dropping out of form Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Ajit Agarkar from the ODI, and selecting Dinesh Mongia, Romesh Powar and Sreesanth in their place could hardly camouflage the fact that, India still believes in their old and tested cricketers, and not yet ready to groom young stars for the future.
None of the Indian batsmen except Yuvraj Singh is enjoying good form and the rest have to rely on net practices to gain their form back as there is no tour match scheduled before the ODI series. Inclusion of Sreesanth and RP Singh will boost India’s bowling attack, but lack of quality spinner in spin friendly Bangladesh condition is a significant weakness.
After starting the preparation camp in Kolkata, where conditions are somewhat similar to Bangladesh, India faced more dramatic developments, which dented their plans for Bangladesh series. Both Sachin and Dravid managed to get themselves injured, and players refused to sign the contract over pay disputes, things are not looking ideal for “Team India” who face an acid test in the up-coming ODI series. Newly appointed coach-cum-manager Ravi Shastri is trying hard to restore the order and discipline, which is the key requirement for the Indian team, who are facing constant criticism and aiming to bounce back
Bangladesh have progressed significantly as an ODI outfit over the last couple of years, and after the world cup success, they have earned valuable confidence to compete at the top level. Having said that, lack of consistency still remains as a major concern for the young Bangladesh team. Bangladesh have consistently managed to mix the best with the worst, and some superb performances are more than often marred by below par displays. They must find the right balance to continue the success, they achieved in the world cup. While bowling department has performed and elevated them to world standard, batting has let the team down in numerous occasions.
Bangladeshi top order must find their lost rhythm in favorable home condition to outshine India. The aggressive and positive intent of Tamim Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Ashraful is the key to Bangladesh’s success in ODI, but failure to control the rush of blood is another key concern. Out of form Shahriar Nafees, who lost his vice-captaincy to Mohammad Ashraful and skipper Habibul Bashar, who is playing his last home series in ODI, need to sort out their batting woe to stabilize the explosive but fragile batting order.
The spin trio of Bangladesh is the heart of the bowling attack and the smothering influence of Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak and Sakib Al Hasan, on opposition batsmen, has lifted Bangladesh even in most difficult conditions to bowl. They are expected to fire on all cylinders in favorable home condition and their domination can effectively tie up even the spin experienced Indian batting line up.
The new ball bowlers, Mashrafe Mortaza and Syed Rasel, provide the effective balance in the attack, and both of them are genuine wicket takers. While Mashrafe surprises opposition with his pace and swing, Rasel deceives batsmen with lack of pace and accuracy. Considering current form, Bangladesh will be heading to the ODI series, with a much better and balanced bowling attack compared to rival India.
Bangladesh have already established their supremacy in fielding, which is the third frontier of the game, over their sub-continent rivals, India and Pakistan. The aging Indian cricket team will find it difficult to deal with the youthful and agile Tigers, and this can make a real difference in a keenly contested series.
Bangladesh is trying to cope with the busy schedule of International cricket, as they got only a week rest after a grueling three months long Caribbean mission. A success over apparently struggling India, who received sufficient rest due to their first round exit from the world cup, can bring some refreshing moments for the Tigers.
With confidence running high, Bangladesh are aiming to continue their domination over their neighbor, who until recently considered them as a walkover. The youth brigade is ready to offer more sleepless night to the declining cricket super-power, in a bid to establish them as a new powerhouse of world cricket.